I had a very happy moment this afternoon when I got news of my success in this year’s National Flash Fiction Day Anthology with my story ‘Venus of Willendorf’. The theme for the anthology is time and I wanted to write a story set in the modern world, but linking back to ancient times. I am fascinated by the history of the Venus of Willendorf and the shape of this woman’s body compared to how contemporary women are viewed and judged.
I was chosen to be published in the anthology along with another 49 writers, many of whom have had prestigious publications – so I feel honoured to be among their number. Huge thanks to the judges Karen Jones and Damhnait Monaghan.
This is the second time I have been lucky enough to be published in the NFFD Anthology. The first time was in 2014 with the ‘Eating My Words’ edition and my story ‘Seven Breaths’. I can’t wait to add another edition to my bookshelf!
This week I had a lovely surprise – one of my short stories will be published in the 5th Crossing the Tees anthology.
Winners of the competition will be announced in April at an evening event of reading and celebration of the short story. I have my fingers crossed! Thanks to Cross the Tees organisers and Sixth Element for their support of local writers.
What a wonderful surprise I had this evening hearing that I, along with five other writers, have been nominated for the #PushcartPrize by @SparePartsLit online magazine for my flash fiction ‘Sceptrum’ which they kindly published in their third volume. It is my first nomination and although I know so many people are nominated world wide every year, it still feels amazing that my name is amongst them. Huge thanks to Spare Parts Lit and EIC Oak Ayling for accepting my piece for publication in the first place and then following that up with this nomination.
So pleased to have a piece on Paragraph Planet today – every day is a new day on this site, so you will only be able to read it today (15th Nov GMT) then it will be lodged in the archive under my surname.
It is free to submit and you only have to submit 75 words – it has to be exactly 75 words though and there’s the challenge!
So why not give it a go – polish up your 75 words and submit to the site. Good luck and share your successes!
Another two rejections came in this week and it’s very disappointing of course. BUT, I get it, I understand why – my writing is just not as good as what’s out there at the moment. I’m reading a lot of flash fiction and short stories that are on well respected journals like Popshot magazine, Emerge Literary and Smokelong Quarterly and to be entirely honest with myself, my writing is just not up to scratch when compared to what is being published. It’s not tight enough, not got interesting enough imagery. I need to learn more by reading and more writing, more practice.
The online workshop I attended last weekend was excellent and it will help my writing, I have no doubt, but it is obvious to me that more practice is needed. But I also need to give myself permission to be more adventurous with my writing and that’s what I aim to do over the next few weeks. I’m hoping that will help me develop better writing, more arresting imagery, more engaging stories.
This weekend I took part in an online writing workshop organised by the team at Retreat West – although it was part of a whole weekend I could only commit to one day but what an amazing day it was! There were about 20 others on the workshop, many who already knew each other but everyone was very friendly and welcoming.
The day flew over with a variety of guest speakers who gave us activities to get us writing but also excellent advice to help hone our writing skills. Poppy O’Neill from the writing community Writers HQ started the day off with a session on playfulness in writing which reminded me that sometimes I forget about having fun because I’m focusing too much on writing my best story. Having fun helped me come up with a new story starter which I hope to develop later.
Next came a fantastic session from author Meg Pokrass and her collaborator in writing Rosie Garland, both of whom are very successful independently but have been collaborating with their writing for a while and gave us all an insight into their process. Collaboration in this way is not something I have been involved with but it was definitely something I would consider in the future.
After a short break we were treated to an intense but immensely useful session on editing from the hugely talented Meagan Lucas who made me realise just how brutally honest I have to be with myself to make my work better. Cut, cut and cut again and then maybe add some in if it needs it. Be conservative with the ‘flabby bits’ as she called them but most usefully she demonstrated what she meant by talking through some examples of work that she admired.
Last but not least was a flash writing session with prompts from Laura Besley where we were stretched to use our tired brains to develop flash from just a few random words. Laura offered great ideas and support to get us writing and developing the ideas that sprang from the session. We were asked to really think about key aspects of what makes a good prompt, a good story, how do we know when something is good. Although we ran out of time to share our beginnings, I certainly came away with lots of ideas to start new stories.
Overall, I can thoroughly recommend Retreat West as an organisation to look at for writing workshops. World class authors were on hand to support participants in a very relaxed but professional environment. A fantastic day.
Yesterday I received a rejection after I had submitted a flash fiction to an online magazine. It was disappointing as it is every time I get a rejection, although the rejection email was especially well written and more than polite, encouraging. There were no specific tips for future work, but there was a friendly tone of writerly solidarity. And it is for this reason that I didn’t feel too bad about the rejection. It was written by someone who cared, not just about writing, but also about writers. And that has helped me feel inspired to do more wiring and to re-submit to that particular online zine in the future.
Since returning to writing I feel very lucky to have had 2 publications in a few weeks. I have several submissions out at the moment and have a few rejections too. I keep my spreadsheet up to date with where I have sent my work, knowing that if a story isn’t right for one publication, it might one day be right for another. In the meantime I will keep writing and waiting for either a rejection or acceptance. But for me, at this moment in my writing life, just having some work to send out is a positive and keeping me motivated. I hope you are also keeping going and making progress with whatever writing project you have on at the moment.
After a long hiatus I have returned to writing and am loving it! I had been tinkering with things for a while, mostly little ideas, sometimes even getting to write things down (!) but now I have come back to writing with a renewed enthusiasm.
I was absolutely delighted to have my first submission in over five years accepted by Visual Verse . As usual they provided an amazing image for their prompt and I was delighted to be published along with so many excellent pieces. The reading of others’ work really inspires me to do more.
I have also taken the plunge to complete an MA in Creative Writing with the Open University. I am hoping it will develop my writing to help me get more pleasure from creating new stories.
So delighted today to have another one of my 75 word stories up on Paragraph Planet
Why not submit something yourself? It is free to submit, and you usually get feedback within a few days. The only trick is to write something in only 75 words – but it’s fun to have a go and lovely to see your work published online too.
After a week of several rejections I am delighted to have my flash story published this evening on the website Flash Fiction North. They publish and promote flash fiction from writers all over the world. You can submit for free via the contact email on their website. My story is up here for you to enjoy 😊https://www.flashfictionnorth.com/recentfiction
I have just submitted to Visual verse again this month and encourage you to do the same! It is an excellent website that provides a visual prompt on the first day of every month.
I have been lucky enough to have three pieces published on their site – here’s the link if you want to read any of them
This ekphrastic method of writing is a great way to get you creating something from a random image selected by someone else. The images they offer are always stimulating. They allow your imagination to go farther and wilder than perhaps it would normally. Why not give it a go?
The rules are simple: 50-500 words, written and submitted in one hour – don’t forget to edit it before sending! Good luck!
My story was inspired by my experience of river swimming at one of my local rivers. I wanted to show how every element is interlinked and how the water can bring a sense of power to the swimmer.
It was great fun to write and it is a delight to me that other people also loved it enough to publish it. Interestingly it was rejected by another publisher before it was accepted within days by @sparepartslit. Many thanks to Oak who is EIC with Spare Parts
Sometimes as a writer you have have to buckle up and enjoy the ride! so many times this writing life wreaks havoc with my emotions. This week I have hardly been able to do any writing because of other commitments which has been very frustrating. Then I received a rejection (very polite, but still a rejection) which of course was very disappointing. As usual I updated my spreadsheet to indicate the latest rejection and mulled over my story. Why hadn’t they liked it? What could I do to improve it?
Then I read a short thread on Twitter about how personal an editor’s response is to any submission. Of course I knew this but it was good to be reminded of the subject nature of writing and not to be too disheartened. And with a longer list of rejections than acceptances I should be used to it!
I did review the story and made a couple of very minor changes but I thought it was a good story. I liked it So I decided to send it out again and within 2 days it was accepted! Another upturn on the rollercoaster! And I know it’s a cliché but there really is a home for every story. As much a reminder to myself as anything, keep writing, keep sending work out and eventually someone will appreciate your work.
Today the online writing platform Cafe lit magazine published one of my very short flash stories, ‘Morning, again’. Although flash is a short form of writing, sometimes known as micro fiction, this story was less than 150 words. Some journals and publishers accept flash up to 500 words, so my story was short!
Despite the brevity of flash or micro fiction, the drafting and editing process can take a long time as it is so important to choose the right term or phrase as well as the right structure. And as much as I like the freedom of writing I also love the editing process, moulding the work into something more streamlined but hopefully more powerful.
Getting back to writing for me has meant getting more organised too. As a fairly organised person I feel that I can make time and space to write and read. This is so important to do – not just re-read and edit my own work but also to read other people’s work. A great source of inspiration in terms of encountering a range of different ideas, reading also allows me the time to absorb others’ writing style.
To get the most out of my writing, I have also got my work organised in my drive. I use google drive and I like to create folders for a variety of reasons. Folders, like drawers, keep things tidy, but it also means I can compartmentalise more easily. This helps me focus on a task.
What I also use to keep me focused and organised is a spreadsheet! I am on the bottom rung as far as spreadsheet skills go, but I find it a really useful tool to keep track of submissions. This evening I have been updating my spreadsheet and, although I have not been back to writing long, I have already submitted work to a variety of competitions and online platforms. Seeing this list of subs reminds me that I can write, that I do have something to say and hopefully other people will enjoy reading what I have written.
As I mentioned in last week’s post, about the police caution, we are going to discuss voluntary interviews this week.
This was the question that started us down this path, originally.
When someone is brought in for questioning with no evidence (as in you are still gathering and you ask them to help with your enquiries at the station) are they under caution and can they leave at any time?
So, the answer is, that you don’t just bring people into a police station for questioning with no evidence. No matter what the TV might tell you. You need grounds for arrest if you are arresting someone, and if someone is not under arrest, then they absolutely do not have to come with you to a police station. They don’t even have to talk to you.
There is a way to interview someone on record, though, who you may…
Issue 2 of The Nottingham Reviewis now available! Featuring original short stories by KM Elkes, Brent van Staalduinen, Samantha Baldassari, Neil Campbell, Jonathan Pinnock, Marie Hanna Curran, Matthew Jakubowski, Pam Plumb, and Flo Ward. Cover photograph by Masatoshi Hashiya.